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September 17, 2011

The Beginning of Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, long ago, before Twitter, Facebook & Myspace there were chat rooms on a place called "America Online" (AOL).  Many people, often lonely, would go to talk trash, act like people they weren't, entertain themselves & look for love - or their version of it anyway.  

This, my friends, is how Ryan & I met.  The fabulous world of AOL!  It was completely by chance ( God!) too.  The chat rooms had so many different categories, anyone could create their own room if they wanted to & anyone could go in and chat from anywhere.  But, on one boring night in 2002, both Ryan & I just happened to be in the same Christian chat room (out of hundreds) at the same time looking to fill the void with entertainment, friendship and, possibly, love.

I'm not quite sure of the exact wording but this is possibly how it went down:
WORL211:  Anyone here from Indianapolis?
WCDiver77:  I am!  19/F/Indy
WORL211:  22/M/New Orleans You know of anything going on up there?
WCDiver77:  hmm..nope, y?
WORL211:   IMing you (that means "instant messaging" lol)

And so it began.....our friendship, our relationship, our love.....our happily ever after.

Ryan was stationed in New Orleans as a Corpsman in the U.S Coastguard.  So our long distance friendship began.  Over the months we got to know each other while still living our own very separate lives.  I was still looking for love in all the wrong places & he was still "having a good time" in New Orleans.  The moment came....he was coming home for Christmas to visit his family & we were to meet up.  He was going to call me when he got into town & had a free moment.  I think the plan was for him to come to my apartment & hang out.  This was not new to me, I had met many people in person off the internet.  Never at my apartment, though...for some reason I felt Ryan was different.

Ring....Ring....Ring....heart pounding, OMGosh its him...he's calling me....what do I do??  Answer it?  Should I?  Oh no...second thoughts - I'm not ready for anything he wanting something serious?  Have we already gotten more serious over our chats on the phone than I'm ready for?  Oh My Goodness - WHAT DO I DO?!?!?  Crap......go to voicemail.

That was it - Christmas of 2002 - we were supposed to meet up and I chickened out.  That was the end of it.....

Or was it?

Fast forward almost 2 years to August 2004.  I went on a trip to Cancun, Mexico with a guy I thought I knew well enough.  Turns out I didn't & what I thought was a friendly trip to Cancun turned into him leaving me halfway through our trip to go home to his girlfriend (whom I did not know about).  Before you get all judgmental let me inform you the sleeping arrangements & my thoughts about what the trip was supposed to be was different from what he thought/wanted them to be.  I reserved a room with 2 beds & I slept by myself, in my own bed, every night.  Three days into it & he left me.  I rode out my vacation & made it home safely - Thank God!

Why did I tell you that little story that seems to have absolutely nothing to do with our little "happily ever after"?  Well, because it has everything to do with it.  You see, since that day in December, 2002 when I ignored Ryan's call to meet up we hadn't chatted.  He must have been a bit miffed from my ignoring of his call & we both had moved on with our lives.  Or had we?

Soon after I returned from my vacation with myself, Ryan & I reconnected.  I was SO anxious to tell someone about my trip - probably looking for him to feel sorry for me.  We both kept each other on our "Buddy List" on AOL which made it easy to IM when we were both on.  One of us IMed the other (not sure who did it first, probably me!) & we started chatting again.  I told him all about my vacation & in that moment it happened - we had rekindled whatever feelings we had planted 2 years prior. 

I remember chatting with Ryan on the phone one time while I was driving home to get ready for a date.  Haha, yeah....I was going on a date - but, come on, I still hadn't met this guy (Ryan) in person & I had already had this date set with a guy I had a crush on for a while so I was going!  Anywho - this guy called for directions while I was talking to Ryan.  I put Ryan on hold, told the guy how to get to my house, then clicked back over and said my goodbyes to Ryan.  The date obviously didn't go well - we just didn't "click."  I honestly think the reason we didn't click was because deep within me I was already connected to Ryan - even if we had 'just' reconnected a couple weeks before.  The seed that was planted 2 years ago had started to take root.

First picture I ever saw of Ryan
 Weeks went by & our conversations got deeper.  This time it seemed a little different because his time in the Coast Guard would soon be completed.  He was planning on being discharged at the end of the year.  We had a better grasp on what we wanted with our lives & saw an actual date when we would finally be able to be together.  By September 15, 2004, we decided we would be exclusive - we would not see other people & would focus on getting to know one another even more.  Remember, we still had yet to meet in person.  All we had were pictures of each other & what we knew from chatting all the time.

The weeks turned into months & we learned more & more about each other & even ourselves.  Our friendship turned into a relationship & our relationship turned into a deep bond neither of us really saw happening - but it did.  We learned more about each other from our chats than anyone will ever know.  We opened up about our fears, regrets, mistakes, happy moments, what excited us, our past (even if it hurt the other person), our plans for the future, our families & on & on.  Everything you learn about someone over the course of dating them but we didn't have the distraction of physically being next to one another.  When we may have just been making out or watching a movie we talked.  We began to tell our secrets & be honest with each other which some relationships never have.  I can remember Ryan calling me after Halloween & telling me he hadn't been completely honest with me about his partying but he was now done with it.  He didn't want that lifestyle anymore.  That had to take guts & trust to be able to tell me something like that.  I also recall telling Ryan about my past & us both breaking down on the phone.  I hurt so badly knowing this man had saved himself for me & he was broken over the fact that I hadn't saved myself for him.  My heart felt like it was ripped out of my chest, I thought I was going to lose him.  It was awful - but we grew so strong from then on out.  These conversations had to happen & in the way they did.  Had we been chatting eye to eye I'm not so sure they would have ended the way they did.

Thanksgiving rolled around & Ryan always spent it with his Aunt & some family friends in Florida.  By this time we already knew we would spend the rest of our lives together.  Kind of strange to everyone around us since we still had yet to meet in person & lets be honest here, my family & friends had seen my history with guys that I eventually got bored with & dumped.  I can only imagine what their thoughts were about this whole relationship.  Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving came - Black Friday.  Ryan went shopping!  Guess what he bought??  I don't even know why he told me but he did - he bought an engagement ring.  Now....I know this sounds completely strange for us to have felt this amazing connection before ever meeting in person, but we did.  A connection so deep Ryan bought a ring.  Yes, as shocked as you all reading this probably are, I was too.  But, it just showed how sure he was about us - that felt amazing.

The moment came again when we were going to finally be face to face.  Christmas of 2004!  Exactly 2 years after our first chance at meeting that never happened (whoops, lol).  The plan was for him to be able to come home for Christmas & not have to go back since he would be discharged, finished with his time in the Coast Guard.  The Coast Guard, however, had different plans.  They simply said, "No, you'll have to wait until after Christmas."  

ARE      YOU     KIDDING     ME??  

Ugh....all of this built up excitement & anticipation lost at the hands of the Coast Guard.  Fabulous.......this sucks.  Now what?  I'm going to be sad on Christmas & my man has to spend his all alone.  Who wants to spend Christmas alone?  Hmmm......then came the bright idea!

I'm flying down there....I'm gonna do it.  I'm putting my butt on a plane & flying to New Orleans to spend the weekend of Christmas with Ryan!  The man I will someday marry is NOT going to spend Christmas alone!  And - maybe this will make up for 2 years ago when I chickened out! ha ha  Ignoring my family & friends' thoughts about flying down there, I bought a ticket.  They all thought I was crazy & I'm certain were scared for my life.  They had never met Ryan, heck, neither had I, but I knew him.  I really KNEW him.  I felt like I knew him inside & out - I had gotten to know his heart, his mind, his soul.  They just didn't understand.

Actual email between Ryan & I before we finally met in person

The plane ride had to be the shortest & longest trip ever.  I was so excited & anxious to finally be able to put my arms around Ryan but once I landed I was SO nervous.  What if all these months of falling in love with each other were for nothing & we just don't click in person?  What if we aren't really attracted to each other?  What if?!?!  I can't exactly ignore his phone call this time - I'm on a freaking plane to New Orleans!

Oh crap....the plane has landed.  I actually have to get off this plane.  Its like 10:00pm - maybe later, I can't remember.  I just remember sitting in my seat...looking around as everyone was anxiously waiting to be able to get off the plane & I was a nervous wreck.  I called Ryan as soon as I was able to tell him we landed.  He told me where he was, what he was wearing & I told him I'd be carrying a pink pillow, you couldn't miss me.  I also told him I was going to wait until I was the last person off the plane just to make him wait that much longer.  Honestly, I just didn't want anyone around when we finally did meet up.  I was afraid it would be completely awkward & everybody would be looking at us.

Here it goes - the last person off the plane.  I'm still talking to Ryan as I get my luggage out of the overhead bin, grab my pillow & head off the plane.
Ryan:  Are you off the plane yet?
Me:  I'm off the plane headed your way.
Ryan:  Where are you? Where are you?
Me:  I'm carrying a big pink pillow, you can't miss me.  Where are you?
Ryan:  I'm standing right outside the doors waiting on you.  Oh, I see you!
Me:  I see you too!
Ryan:  Come & get me! (with his snarky little tone, lol)

Pretty sure I started walking faster at that moment.  I passed the doors to where Ryan was standing, dropped everything I had & it was "movie moment" time.  You know, when the two actors finally reach the much anticipated embrace & the camera circles around them.  Yeah, it was like that.  Exactly like that.  I'm sure if someone was there who knew what was going on they would have gotten butterflies in their tummy, smiled that smile, got that "awe" look in their eyes & possibly even shed a tear.  

That moment we embraced solidified everything we had felt over the past several months.  Feeling his arms around me for the first time is something I will never forget.  The strength & softness - I felt safe, secure, home.  Next was our first kiss.  WOW....this was it.  THIS is what the movies are like in real life.  THIS is what every girl dreams of.  THIS is everything.  

There is something amazing about falling in love with someone before seeing them in person. I think every mother can relate - we love our child in our womb before ever seeing them. Then that moment comes when you finally get to meet them face to face & you are overcome with emotion. Yeah, that's exactly what it was like.

And so began our happily ever after......

Our First Picture Together

Our First Date

A Letter From Ryan Soon After He Was Home For Good


  1. oh my goodness! Chills! Funny how life has a way of working out, and you just kind of "know." :) I'm actually planning on doing the exact same thing here at the end of Oct... when Ray and I met 11 years ago.

  2. Get started now Crystal! lol - you won't believe the things you will remember as you go along writing it. Ryan hasn't even read it yet, lol.

  3. I never knew this was how the two of you met. This is the best story ever and completely made me cry!